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Step by Step Guide to Buying a Home

If you are planning the purchase of your first home or purchase of a new home, please see below a list of simple guidelines and links that will help provide important information relevant to your transaction. Click on a number to view that step and click again to close.

In New Jersey a contract does not become binding until the mandatory three (3) day attorney review period is completed.

Attorney review begins on the day after both parties (buyer and seller) receive a fully executed contract of sale. By law attorney review lasts three (3) days, not including holidays, Saturdays or Sundays. The purpose of the attorney review period is to give an opportunity for the parties to review the contract, make changes to the contract and allow a party to cancel the contract within that time period. Be advised that if a contract is legally disapproved, review may last longer then three (3) days. In addition, regardless of the terms set forth in the contract, during the attorney review period, a seller may entertain other offers on the property. For questions on this issue please contact our office.

Please note if you are entering into a contract without any realtors there may not be an attorney review provision. Please contact an attorney prior to signing such a contract.

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We cannot provide you with accurate closing cost figures until a day or two (2) prior to closing. Your lender will dictate many of the costs involved with the closing.

Some things to look for and request:

Your lender is obligated to provide you with a good faith estimate of your closing costs. Regardless of who you use, make sure you get an estimate. If you would like us to review this estimate we will gladly go over it with you. Please let your mortgage company know that your attorney will order title insurance and a survey on your behalf. Title insurance costs are regulated by the State of New Jersey. In addition to the closing costs quoted by your lender, be prepared to pay an extra quarter of taxes up-front at the time of closing. This is in addition to the three (3) or four (4) months escrow the lender will most likely require at closing. Finally, be prepared to deposit at closing an escrow, usually three (3) or four (4) months of homeowners insurance payments. This is in addition to the year you will most likely be required to pay up front.

For an estimate on closing costs call us immediately.

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In New Jersey, unless the contract specifically states that the closing date is “time of the essence,” the date set for closing is a specific date.

In most cases, parties are able to close on the date in the contract. However, you should not make plans to move and should not schedule moving trucks until you confirm the date with your attorney

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Inspections must be scheduled within 10 to 14 days after the attorney review. When you schedule your inspection make sure your inspection company will perform a pest/ termite inspection. You will most likely need to provide a termite certificate to your lender prior to closing. It is also recommended that you have a radon test done during the inspection.

If your home inspection company finds evidence of an underground oil tank, active or abandoned, we recommend that you contact an environmental company to perform additional tests. These tests will help to determine or to uncover possible leaking or contamination. If the house you are purchasing is serviced by oil heat, request from your realtor or the seller the name of the insurance carrier insuring the oil tank if it is located underground.

Remember the purpose of the home inspection is to uncover major or structural issues that affect the habitability of the home for you and your family. It is not a tool to renegotiate the price of the home. Cosmetic issues are usually not subject to repair requests. Contact us to discuss the legal issues revolving around the home inspection contingency clause in your contract.

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Prior to signing your contract, we recommend that you research your mortgage options to determine the best programs and rates available for your individual purchase.

There can be numerous issues that may come up with regard to your mortgage financing. You may hear people talking about sellers’ concessions (financing your closing costs), interest only arm programs, pay option arm programs, etc. These issues may get confusing, please contact us to help you navigate through these options.

It is very important that you get pre-approved before you begin your home search or before you sign your contract. If you have a home to sell and you must sell your home in order to purchase your new home, it is imperative that you make that clear in your contract or have it added during your attorney review. You want to avoid any situation where you may lose your deposit money because the correct language was not added to your contract. This is why it is very important that you retain an attorney to represent your interests in your home purchase.

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If you are purchasing a single or multi-family dwelling your mortgage company will require that you purchase home owner’s insurance usually one (1) year paid up front. We suggest that you obtain quotes right away. This will prevent against delays if your property is serviced by oil heat or if there are other issues that may make it difficult to obtain a policy. We also suggest that you investigate home owners insurance prior to even purchasing a home or entering into a contract.

If you are buying a condo/townhome or co-op you will most likely not need home owner’s insurance however you may want to consider purchasing insurance for your personal contents.

Also, if the property you are purchasing is located in a flood zone (please speak with your realtor prior to entering into a contract to find out whether or not the property is located in a flood zone), you will most likely be required to purchase flood insurance as well as home owner’s insurance. This can be costly and you should shop around.

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Title insurance is protection. Without a title insurance policy, you may not be fully protected against errors in public records.

Why the Buyer Needs Title Insurance

Hidden defects not disclosed by the public records, or mistakes in examination of the title of your new property. As a result, you may be held fully accountable for any prior liens, judgments or claims brought against your new property. However, your policy insures that if such an occasion arises, you will be defended free of charge against all covered claims and paid up to the amount of the policy to settle valid claims. With a title insurance policy you need never worry that your new property’s history will tarnish your bright future.

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Your closing will most likely take place at the buyer’s attorney’s office. An attorney will accompany you at the closing.

Important things to understand prior to closing:

Certified funds: A day or two (2) prior to closing we will contact you to provide you with your final numbers so that you can secure final funds to bring to the closing table. It is important that you provide us with an email address or fax number so we can deliver you your final settlement sheet. Once you approve the final number you must get one (1) check payable to Weber Law Office, LLC attorney trust account (unless otherwise advised). This check must be certified or a bank check. Bring the check with you to the closing. If your check is not certified or a bank check you cannot close. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Walk through: Contact your realtor (or seller if there is no realtor) to schedule your final walk through. The purpose of this walk through is for the buyer to make sure all appliances are in working order, the water runs properly, the heat/air works, that the property is in the same condition as it was during the home inspections. Unless an item is hidden or considered a latent defect, the odds of recovering against a seller for a problem discovered after closing is minimal. Although expensive it may not be a bad idea to bring your home inspector to your final walk through to make sure there are no new problems, or issues not identified during the home inspections.

We will provide you with hard copies of your closing documents and a CD (PDF Format) with all your signed documents.

Your closing documents online indefinitely for easy accessibility. We will record your mortgage and deed with the county clerks office. When we receive the original documents then we will forward them to you immediately. We also provide you with an original title insurance owners policy. It is very important that you keep this policy safe and at hand, because you may need this policy when you go to sell your home.

It is very important that if you have any questions or concerns to call us. We have a fully trained and experienced staff to handle all your questions and needs. Your attorney’s cell number is provided to you for those times you need to speak to someone immediately.

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Step by Step Guide to Selling your Home

If you are planning the sale of your home please see below a list of simple guidelines and links that will help you and provide important information relevant to your transaction. Click on a number to view that step and click again to close.

In New Jersey a contract does not become binding until the mandatory 3 day attorney review period is completed.

Attorney review begins on the day after both parties (buyer and seller) receive a fully executed contract of sale. Attorney review lasts 3 days, not including holidays, Saturdays or Sundays. The purpose of the attorney review period is to give an opportunity for the parties to review the contract, make changes to the contract and allow a party to cancel the contract within that time period. Be advised that if a contract is legally disapproved, review may last longer then three (3) days. In addition, regardless of the terms set forth in the contract, during the attorney review period, a seller may entertain other offers on the property. For questions on this issue please contact our office.

Please note if you are entering into a contract without any realtors there may not be an attorney review provision. Please contact an attorney prior to signing such a contract.

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As a seller, it is important to remember that you must pay at the time of closing unless otherwise negotiated in your contract. A realty transfer fee payable to the State of New Jersey. This fee is based on the purchase price of your home. Click this link for an estimate on the realty transfer fee you will have to pay based on sales price of your home. Homes sold for over $1,000,000 are subject to the New Jersey State Mansion Tax. The Mansion Tax is paid by the purchaser. The Mansion Tax rate is 1% of the sales price when the price is more than $1,000,000. The Mansion Tax applies to all deeds where the land conveyed is classified under the Administrative Code as Class 2 “residential” or as Class 3A “farm property” but only if the farmland contains a building or structure intended or suited for residential use, or if the property is a co-operative unit. Furthermore, if the grantee is exempt from federal income taxation under IRC 501(c)(3), the transfer is exempt. The Mansion Tax Amendment is effective from February 1, 2005, but applies retroactively to August 1, 2004. Questions regarding the changes in the statute requirement and/or whether a property is exempt from the Mansion Tax or questions in connection with any possible refund of taxes paid between August 1, 2004 and February 1, 2005 for properties that may now be exempt from the Mansion Tax should be directed to the Division of the Taxation.

You may be eligible for a discount on the realty transfer fee if you are a senior citizen (over the age of 62) or if you have a physical disability on record with the State of New Jersey (contact us to determine eligibility for these discounts).

If your home was listed by a realtor you must pay a commission to your realtor. Depending on the percentage agreed to in your listing agreement, this amount will be due and payable to the listing and selling agent at the time of closing.

Sellers’ Residency In New Jersey: In New Jersey, if you are a resident of another state you may be required to pay an estimate of the taxes (or capital gains) due the State of New Jersey. Usually this fee amounts to 2% of the sales price, however, contact us for information on this issue. Be advised that you may be required to pay the residency tax at closing, however, you should consult with your accountant to determine if sales tax is refundable after the fact. For more information on this deduction please click on the following link. (https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/gitrepfaqs.htm)

There may be some recording fees or miscellaneous fees due at closing however you must provide us with specific information on your transaction in order for us to give you a more accurate estimate.

Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Detectors. In nearly every sale of real estate in New Jersey a seller will be required to obtain what is called a certificate of occupancy (CO).

This is a certificate issued by your township or municipality certifying to potential buyers that your home is safe for habitability. There are some townships and municipalities that do not require this, however, be sure to contact your local municipal office for that information. You can also contact us directly. We have a list of every township in New Jersey and whether they do or do not require a certificate of occupancy. The certificate you obtained or that was provided to you at the closing when you bought the property is not satisfactory. You should wait until you contract finalizes before scheduling your inspection with the town.

You will be required to obtain a smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector certificate. Every township requires this. You will have to contact your local municipal office (contact us for your municipal office’s phone number) to schedule this inspection. Most townships will issue both the certificate of occupancy and the smoke certificate at the same time. Some townships do require separate inspections.

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You really should begin going through your records immediately and locate copies of your DEED, your TITLE INSURANCE POLICY (OWNER’S POLICY) and a copy of your survey. These documents may become necessary if we encounter title issues while under contract.

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Once the contract is signed and begins you will be required to fill out a sellers’ information sheet. We will need information regarding your mortgage payoffs, marital history, and potential liens on the property that are required to be paid off prior to closing including, but not limited to, mortgage payoff information.

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The “Closing of Title” which is the final or end of the sale/purchase.

In most cases, the closing Closing of Title will take place at the buyer’s attorney’s office. However, it is not necessary for you to attend the closing.

Understanding we all have busy lives we try to accommodate and make it easier and on you and your family. By giving you the option of signing your closing documents ahead of time or utilizing your power of attorney. We can have your proceeds available through wire transfer or attorney trust account check. If you choose not to attend the closing you must (prior to closing) provide us with contact information so that we are able to contact you during closing to verify the final numbers to ensure accuracy.

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